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Festival ticket scams are leaving revellers £179 out of pocket

As the country’s festivals start to sell out, some music lovers may be looking to non-official channels to get hold of tickets.


Festival season has now kicked off, and for most, entrance to their preferred festival will cost a pretty penny: tickets for Reading and Leeds 2019 come in at £221 with the booking fee, while general admission to Glastonbury comes in at £253.

As the country’s best-loved festivals start to sell out, however, some music lovers may be looking to non-official channels to get hold of second-hand tickets.

Though in recent years many legitimate options have sprouted up to help sell on unwanted wristbands, such as Twickets, recent research has found that a large proportion of festival-goers are susceptible to being scammed by unscrupulous sellers.

According to research carried out by Barclays, more than a quarter of millennial festival-goers (those aged between 25 and 34 in the bank’s survey) have fallen victim to a ticket scam, losing an average of £179 from such crimes. That’s more than the average price of a European festival ticket, which IQ estimated to be €178 (£153) in 2018.

Victims in this age group are also the most likely to be targeted by criminals on multiple occasions, with 37 per cent saying they had been caught out by ticket scams at least three times in the past two years.

Risky online options

One problem is that once a festival is sold out, would-be attendees do not have many reliable or legitimate channels to try to find tickets. Most attending gigs in city centres will be used to the calls of touts waiting outside of train stations or venues themselves, offering last-minute tickets to sold-out concerts at vastly inflated prices.

Some 29 per cent of those polled by Barclays said they would use social media networks to try to find tickets. At the same time, however, 27 per cent believed those tickets posed a serious risk of being fake.

Online scammers will often offer tickets at attractive prices before asking for any money via a direct bank transfer. Many also use bogus ticketing sites to further convince victims that the tickets being sold are legitimate.

Those using apparently legitimate services, such as ticket reselling marketplaces which include Viagogo and Stubhub, can also end up stung by ticket agents’ terms and conditions: some will outright forbid the reselling of tickets, while others require photo ID before permitting entry.

These problems led to Viagogo, StubHub and Ticketmaster attracting the ire of the competition and markets authority (CMA), which ordered each firm to improve the information available about tickets listed on their marketplaces.

In March, the CMA warned that Viagogo had not complied with changes required by a court order and said it would be taking further legal action. In April, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found the firm had falsely claimed it was an “official” ticket seller for events such as the Australian Open and Queen concerts.

A spokesperson for Viagogo said that the firm was committed to rooting out fake tickets, however. Sellers using the platform do not receive payment until after the event and after the purchaser is “satisfied with their experience”.

Top Tips:

  • Citizens Advice recommends checking the types of tickets sold by websites and to be particularly suspicious of those for events “that have sold out or haven’t officially gone on sale”.
  • Running a seller’s name through an online search engine can help to detect if there are comments from other buyers – or victims. Checking a website’s contact details can also help verify this information.
  • Use sites that bear a red, black and white kitemark provided by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, the industry’s regulatory body.

Action Fraud offers the following advice for those buying second-hand event tickets:

  • Avoid purchasing tickets if they do not include the block, row, and seat details.
  • Always check with the event organiser for official ticket distribution listsand never buy from unauthorised sources.
  • In the event that you choose to buy tickets from an individual (for example on eBay or a fan site), never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.
  • Paying by credit card offers better protection than with other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery – so if you’ve got one, and if the seller accepts it, use it.
  • Only make purchases from sites encrypted for payment. Look for the closed padlock and the web address in the browser should begin “https”.
  • Be aware that fraudsters often employ Search Engine Optimisers (SEOs) to give them false positive feedback and often copy terms and conditions from legitimate ticket sellers’ websites.